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As soon as possible, Luke started on his return to New York. He had enjoyed his journey, but now he felt a longing to see home and friends once more. His journey to Chicago was uneventful. He stayed there a few hours, and then started on his way home. On his trip from Chicago to Detroit he fell in with an old acquaintance unexpectedly.
When about thirty miles from Detroit, having as a seatmate a very large man, who compressed him within uncomfortable limits, he took his satchel, and passing into the car next forward, took a seat a few feet from the door. He had scarcely seated himself when, looking around, he discovered, in the second seat beyond, his old Chicago acquaintance, Mr. J. Madison Coleman. He was as smooth and affable as ever, and was chatting pleasantly with a rough, farmerlike-looking man, who seemed very much taken with his attractive companion.
"I wonder what mischief Coleman is up to now?" thought Luke.
He was so near that he was able to hear the conversation that passed between them.
"Yes, my friend," said Mr. Coleman, "I am well acquainted with Detroit. Business has called me there very often, and it will give me great pleasure to be of service to you in any way."
"What business are you in?" inquired the other.
"I am traveling for H. B. Claflin & Co., of New York. Of course you have heard of them. They are the largest wholesale dry-goods firm in the United States."
"You don't say so!" returned the farmer respectfully. "Do you get pretty good pay?"
"I am not at liberty to tell just what pay I get," said Mr. Coleman, "but I am willing to admit that it is over four thousand dollars."
"You don't say so!" ejaculated the farmer. "My! I think myself pretty lucky when I make a thousand dollars a year."
"Oh, well, my dear sir, your expenses are very light compared to mine. I spend about ten dollars a day on an average."
"Jehu!" ejaculated the farmer. "Well, that is a pile. Do all the men that travel for your firm get as much salary as you?"
"Oh, no; I am one of the principal salesmen, and am paid extra. I am always successful, if I do say it myself, and the firm know it, and pay me accordingly. They know that several other firms are after me, and would get me away if they didn't pay me my price."
"I suppose you know all about investments, being a business man?"
"Yes, I know a great deal about them," answered Mr. Coleman, his eyes sparkling with pleasure at this evidence that his companion had money. "If you have any money to invest, I shall be very glad to advise you."
"Well, you see, I've just had a note for two hundred and fifty dollars paid in by a neighbor who's been owin' it for two years, and I thought I'd go up to Detroit and put it in the savings-bank."
"My good friend, the savings-bank pays but a small rate of interest. I think I know a business man of Detroit who will take your money and pay you ten per cent."
"Ten per cent.!" exclaimed the farmer joyfully. "My! I didn't think
I could get over four or six."
"So you can't, in a general way," answered Coleman. "But business men, who are turning over their money once a month, can afford to pay a good deal more."
"But is your friend safe?" he inquired, anxiously.
"Safe as the Bank of England," answered Coleman. "I've lent him a thousand dollars at a time, myself, and always got principal and interest regularly. I generally have a few thousand invested," he added, in a matter-of-course manner.
"I'd be glad to get ten per cent.," said the farmer. "That would be twenty-five dollars a year on my money."
"Exactly. I dare say you didn't get over six per cent. on the note."
"I got seven, but I had to wait for the interest sometimes."
"You'll never have to wait for interest if you lend to my friend.
I am only afraid he won't be willing to take so small a sum. Still,
I'll speak a good word for you, and he will make an exception in
"Thank you, sir," said the farmer gratefully. "I guess I'll let him have it."
"You couldn't do better. He's a high-minded, responsible man. I would offer to take the money myself, but I really have no use for it. I have at present two thousand dollars in bank waiting for investment."
"You don't say so!" said the farmer, eying Coleman with the respect due to so large a capitalist.
"Yes, I've got it in the savings-bank for the time being. If my friend can make use of it, I shall let him have it. He's just as safe as a savings-bank."
The farmer's confidence in Mr. Coleman was evidently fully established. The young man talked so smoothly and confidently that he would have imposed upon one who had seen far more of the world than Farmer Jones.
"I'm in luck to fall in with you, Mr.ó"
"Coleman," said the drummer, with suavity. "J. Madison Coleman. My grandfather was a cousin of President James Madison, and that accounts for my receiving that name."
The farmer's respect was further increased. It was quite an event to fall in with so near a relative of an illustrious ex-President, and he was flattered to find that a young man of such lineage was disposed to treat him with such friendly familiarity.
"Are you going to stay long in Detroit?" asked the farmer.
"Two or three days. I shall be extremely busy, but I shall find time to attend to your business. In fact, I feel an interest in you, my friend, and shall be glad to do you a service."
"You are very kind, and I'm obleeged to you," said the farmer gratefully.
"Now, if you will excuse me for a few minutes, I will go into the smoking-car and have a smoke."
When he had left the car, Luke immediately left his seat, and went forward to where the farmer was sitting.
"Excuse me," he said, "but I saw you talking to a young man just now."
"Yes," answered the farmer complacently, "he's a relative of
"I want to warn you against him. I know him to be a swindler."
"What!" exclaimed the farmer, eying Luke suspiciously. "Who be you?
You're nothing but a boy."
"That is true, but I am traveling on business. This Mr. Coleman tried to rob me about a fortnight since, and nearly succeeded. I heard him talking to you about money."
"Yes, he was going to help me invest some money I have with me. He said he could get me ten per cent."
"Take my advice, and put it in a savings-bank. Then it will be safe. No man who offers to pay ten per cent. for money can be relied upon."
"Perhaps you want to rob me yourself?" said the farmer suspiciously.
"Do I look like it?" asked Luke, smiling. "Isn't my advice good, to put the money in a savings-bank? But I will tell you how I fell in with Mr. Coleman, and how he tried to swindle me, and then you can judge for yourself."
This Luke did briefly and his tone and manner carried conviction. The farmer became extremely indignant at the intended fraud, and promised to have nothing to do with Coleman.
"I will take my old seat, then," said Luke. "I don't want Coleman to know who warned you."
Presently, Coleman came back and was about to resume his seat beside the farmer.
"You see I have come back," he said.
"You needn't have troubled yourself," said the farmer, with a lowering frown. "You nearly took me in with your smooth words, but I've got my money yet, and I mean to keep it. Your friend can't have it."
"What does all this mean, my friend?" asked Coleman, in real amazement. "Is it possible you distrust me? Why, I was going to put myself to inconvenience to do you a service."
"Then you needn't. I know you. You wanted to swindle me out of my two hundred and fifty dollars."
"Sir, you insult me!" exclaimed Coleman, with lofty indignation. "What do Ióa rich manówant of your paltry two hundred and fifty dollars?"
"I don't believe you are a rich man. Didn't I tell you, I have been warned against you?"
"Who dared to talk against me?" asked Coleman indignantly. Then, casting his eyes about, he noticed Luke for the first time. Now it was all clear to him.
Striding up to Luke's seat, he said threateningly, "Have you been talking against me, you young jackanapes?"
"Yes, Mr. Coleman, I have," answered Luke steadily. "I thought it my duty to inform this man of your character. I have advised him to put his money into a savings-bank."
"Curse you for an impertinent meddler!" said Coleman wrathfully.
"I'll get even with you for this!"
"You can do as you please," said Luke calmly.
Coleman went up to the farmer and said, abruptly, "You've been imposed upon by an unprincipled boy. He's been telling you lies about me."
"He has given me good advice," said the farmer sturdily, "and I shall follow it."
"You are making a fool of yourself!"
"That is better than to be made fool of, and lose my money."
Coleman saw that the game was lost, and left the car. He would gladly have assaulted Luke, but knew that it would only get him into trouble.
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